Democracy and database

Democracy and database
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First Published: Wed, Feb 06 2008. 11 50 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Feb 06 2008. 11 50 PM IST
One can only agree with Ramesh Ramanathan (“The mess in voters’ list”, Mint, 28 January) that the Government of India invest in modern technology and streamline its process for collection and updating data using e-governance applications. This needs a joint effort by non-governmental organizations, technologists and companies which have implemented such solutions. They need to work together and educate the government at various levels, and invest the required resources. Such a database is useful not only for maintaining accurate voter lists, but also for other applications. This will result in bringing accountability at all levels and pave the way for good governance, in turn strengthening democracy.
–Dr Raja Mohan Rao
The troubles of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway highlighted in the story “Delhi-Gurgaon expressway traffic stuck in a numbers jam”, Mint, 4 February, are an important issue with national implications not just from the perspective of traffic flows, but also in the context of infrastructure management.
While you have highlighted the issue, by focusing only on traffic flows you have been too kind to the concessionaire. The poor management of the project has become legendary among commuters on this stretch of the road.
First, it was delayed by nearly two years, resulting in substantial economic loss to users and also presumably to the concessionaire. On this score, however, one can cite land acquisition problems as an excuse.
Second, the construction of the expressway was managed very poorly. This not only held up traffic causing delays, but simple principles of safety were also ignored leading to additional loss through accidents caused by the lack of adequate barricades, open ditches, poor lighting and so on. Even now, the poor design of drains and barricades testify to the casual approach of the concessionaire. Worse, this approach to safety resulted in injuries and fatal accidents. It is only the shameful inadequacy of our liability laws that enables the concessionaire to get away with such a situation.
Third, as you have pointed out, since its opening, tollbooths have become a major obstacle. Traffic has been flowing along the highway throughout its construction. Within the past few months traffic has been just as great as it is now. Surely managing the tollbooths for the expected volume of traffic has nothing to do with projections.
In the first few days after its opening, there was simply no information. So, drivers stopped at the booths to ask about the tolling system. Why could there not have been flyers with the requisite information distributed to users as they passed?
–Sanjay Sinha
The loss of $7.16 billion (Rs28,354crore) by France’s second largest bank, Societe General (“How low-level trader eluded Societe General safeguards”, Mint, 29 January) due to a fraudulent act of its rogue equity dealer Jerome Kerviel, has opened the secret of the risk management in banks.
Imagine the disaster if such an event occurred in a big Indian public or private sector bank.
The biggest public sector bank has a profit of Rs5,000 crore a year; it would have no profit for the next eight years. The biggest private bank has an annual profit of Rs3,000 crore; it would not have thought of declaring profit for the next 12 years.
The frequency of frauds has increased in spite of the sophisticated tools and technique available to banks. In such a situation the quality of internal risk management is critical for bank survival.
–Ravi Kant
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First Published: Wed, Feb 06 2008. 11 50 PM IST
More Topics: Democracy | Database | India | Voters' list | Views |